Backlash at plans to increase parking charges in town

Cars parked at The Wong
Cars parked at The Wong

East Lindsey District Council faces an angry backlash from all three of its representatives in Horncastle over plans to introduce parking charges.

The authority was attempting to push through a raft of changes to car parks at a meeting today (Wednesday).

Charges will be increased at many car parks and introduced for the first time at others.

Car parks in Horncastle, Woodhall Spa and Coningsby are among those affected.

One of the most controversial proposals surrounds The Wong in Horncastle.

Vehicle owners have previously being allowed to park for free.

The council wants to introduce charges and has earmarked 115 places. It also plans to install a pay and display machine, costing £3,500.

The first hour will be free, two hours will cost £1, four hours £1.50 and the full day £3.

However, local district councillor Sandra Campbell Wardman has launched a scathing attack on the proposals.

Coun Campbell Wardman, who sat on the scrutiny panel which examined and put forward the proposals, claims The Wong was never included.

She told the News: “I am very angry and I feel totally let down.

“I am going to get a lot of stick. People will think I agreed to introduce the charges but nothing could be further from the truth.

“The Wong was never on the list. Clearly, someone has added it and I am seething.

“What is the point in having scrutiny committees and voting when no-one takes any notice and does their own thing?”

Coun Campbell Wardman said it was “ridiculous and ludicrous” to charge for parking on The Wong which is effectively open land and not properly surfaced or maintained.

She added: “They (ELDC) want to charge for parking when it is not fit for purpose.

“The bays are not going to be marked out. They say there will be space for 115 places.

“What happens if you are the owner of the 116th vehicle. Does that mean you won’t have to pay?

“How will the parking be controlled. Where will the designated area start and stop? It is a ridiculous and ludicrous idea.

Coun Campbell Wardman believes the introduction of charges - and planned increases in fees at town centre car parks in the Market Place, St Lawrence Street and Tesco - will drive people away from Horncastle.

She pledged to speak out against the proposals at today’s meeting and will be supported by Horncastle’s two other district councillors, Fiona Martin and Stephen Newton.

Coun Martin said: “We intend to make our feelings known but we are three councillors out of 60.”

The Wong Working Group is also opposed to the proposal to charge to park.

It wants to tidy up the area and see it used as a recreational and amenity facility.

County Councillor Bill Aron, chairman of the Wong Working Group, admitted ELDC’s proposal had ‘come out of the blue’.

ELDC Portfolio Holder for the Environment, Councillor Tony Bridges said: “Our current car parking arrangements are a real mismatch with some inconsistencies and that isn’t acceptable or fair.

“The report put forward, based on the pre-decision work of the all party scrutiny panel, will make 
car parking across East Lindsey fairer.

“A change to the initial scrutiny work was that the panel proposed that some car parks that are currently free be charged on and some not, which created a greater level of unfairness.

“We realise car parking is an emotive issue but with significant cuts in Government funding the small increases we’re proposing will go a long way to protecting vital front line services.”